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What is a Nuchal Scan?

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    What is a Nuchal Scan?

    I am 12wks today and have no idea what a nuchal scan is? Should I be having one? What does it test for? What is the accuracy? Between what weeks can you take it???


    EDD 1/2/06

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    I'm not sure if we can post website addresses here, but I know a really good website that explains this test. To find the address, go to Google and type in "Nuchal translucency Screening"; it should be the first result mentioned and it's on the website. Basically this test is an ultrasound where they look at the back of the baby's neck; it's a screening test for "Down syndrome (DS) and other chromosomal abnormalities." It has to be done between week 11 and 14. The reason I want to have this test done is: there is no risk to the baby. However, the test is only 80% accurate. I hope this is helpful.


    PS If it is ok to post website addresses, let me know and I'll post this address for you.

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    Melissa - Thea has explained what the test involves, but it is important to know that it is a prediction of risk, rather than diagnostic. Where I live the test is only offered to women 35 years and above, unless there are particular reasons to worry.


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    by Joseph A Worrall MD RDMS

    Nuchal translucency is the swelling just under the skin at the back of the fetal neck. It is important because if the fetus has a greater-than-normal amount of swelling at the back of the neck, there is a high likelihood that the baby will have Down Syndrome or a major heart problem or both.

    Most of us in the business of prenatal diagnosis believe it is desirable to discover before birth the defects that a baby might have. Not all people believe this however. Nuchal translucency takes its place with the triple screen blood test (a screen for abnormal chromosomes, such as Down Syndrome, and also a screen for neural tube defects such as spina bifida) and prenatal ultrasound anatomic survey as the methods we use to look for abnormalities in the unborn.

    Nuchal translucency must be done between 11 weeks 0 days and 13 weeks 6 days menstrual gestational age. The swelling is transient and may be gone if you look after 14 weeks. This time window in the pregnancy is a little too early to do the anatomical survey, but it is a good time to do not only nuchal translucency, but also date the pregnancy, see if there are twins, and look for gross abnormalities.

    If money were no problem, the ideal thing would be to have two ultrasounds during your pregnancy, one around 11 weeks, and another around 22 weeks. It is best to have the nuchal translucency done early in the 3-week window, because it is not always possible to obtain the correct view of the fetus, and if you are early in the window, we can have you return to try again. If you have your nuchal translucency scan at 13 weeks 4 days, and we cannot obtain the view we want, we do not have much time to try again.

    IVF #1 2005 Natalie
    IVF #2 2009 Heidi EDD May 2nd

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